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Why is the parking ordinance (second reading) not on the Feb 1 agenda?

The new parking ordinance was expected to get its second reading at the February 1 City Council meeting. It's not on the agenda for February 1st any more. Why is that?
The First RV Dwellers arrive at Horizon Shine, the RV Village operated by Sonoma Applied Village Services

Here's the answer - it's a practical one. We simply cannot any longer have meetings that go beyond 10pm and sometimes to midnight. It's just not sustainable, and it's definitely not fair to the City Staff, City Council, or most importantly to the public. At the last meeting we had three items that we could not get to because the meeting had gone too late. Members of the public were at the meeting, waiting for hours in the hopes that those issues would eventually be discussed. They weren't, because we ran out of time. Those items are now on the February 1 agenda, which was already packed without those three being added. So something had to go. That something was the second reading of the parking ordinance.

To those of you who are most interested in the parking ordinance, that may feel unfair. But to those of you who feel the Calder Creek Restoration project needs to get its fair share of focus, or that the mid-year budget discussion is a priority, this decision will feel like the right one. And of course there are those of you who are interested in one or another of the many other items still on the agenda for February 1.

The parking ordinance is now expected to be on the February 15 City Council agenda. 

But let me get to the most important point I want to make here: If the parking ordinance had remained on the City Council agenda for February 1, I and others on the City Council likely would not have supported it. So...it's probably a good thing (in my opinion) that the parking ordinance won't come back before the City Council until February 15th. 

Why would I have not supported the parking ordinance if it had come back for consideration on the February 1 agenda? Because there has been a lawsuit filed that seeks to delay and/or prevent the RV Village from opening. As I and other City Councilmembers made clear at the last City Council meeting, we are not comfortable supporting the parking ordinance if the RV Village does not become operational. The filing of the lawsuit makes the potential for delay a real possibility.  

We expect that the lawsuit's impact will be clear by February 15. It is my hope and expectation that the full City Council will then be in a position to support the parking ordinance changes. 

This is an issue of compassion. I have been asked why the RV Village and the parking ordinance are linked for me, from a policy perspective. The answer is simple: It's an issue of compassion. To make these changes in parking rules requires that we support a system that will give lived-in RVs nowhere to park during the day. This is a major step that in many ways goes against our compassion (and the compassion of our community). I truly believe that the only way our City Council (and our town) can support this outcome is with the knowledge that we are offering an opportunity for a better life to many of those human beings who are currently on Morris Street, struggling to survive. The RV Village offers a glimmer of hope for these people: a managed, safe, humane, and sanitary alternative to the slum-like situation on Morris Street.

I am confident in the City’s position on the RV Village decision. We have had the benefit of outside counsel’s advice, and know that our decision-making was compliant with the law, and that it is producing the best possible outcome for our community. 

To those in the community who feel frustration at the lawsuit that has caused this uncertainty in terms of the parking ordinance, please remember that all citizens have the right to turn to the judicial system to address their concerns. That's democracy. It's messy, but it allows for the voices of all to be heard, and it gives access to judicial review of decisions like the City's, regarding the RV Village. As a community, we need to respect that process. It means that there will be some delay, but that's because we have people in our town who have concerns and want their voices heard in the court system. That's their right, and we need to be respectful and patient as they pursue that right. 

Please remember that all any of us on the City Council are trying to do is find the best possible solution to a problem that has no perfect outcome. The good news, as I've already said, is that the City’s decision-making regarding the RV Village is completely defensible. We made the right decision, following the right procedure, for the right outcome for our town.

Diana Rich, Sebastopol City Council
321 S. Main St. #60, Sebastopol CA 95472
drich@cityofsebastopol.org
707 861-0032
FPPC #1430199
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